Thursday, 20 October 2011

Becoming Mrs. American Pie

My August ended with quite a production. I have a tendency to dabble and feel that my difficulty with completion is one of my most frustrating flaws. This summer, however, I did complete something and the question is now – what next?

Basically I signed up to have a stand at the St. John’s Chapel Agricultural Show, and to this end I became Mrs. American Pie, selling American-style sweet pies by the slice, with cookies as the supporting act. For me this was an accomplishment for several reasons.

First, I often feel my creativity gets left on the back burner, because like many I need a paying job to earn money with which to pay bills - student loans, and so on. I don’t work in a particularly creative environment, which leaves part of me to wilt.

Second, the idea of selling pies in my corner of England came to me following a series of moments in one 24-hour period. These were moments that, if examined independently, wouldn't amount to much, but as a sequence became fruitful! 1. A tearful conversation with my dear sister about fears of not living up to my full potential. 2. An issue of Our State magazine (our state being North Carolina) with a feature on food in every county. 3. A midnight sit-up-straight-eyes-wide-open epiphany. Pies! Why not? The British love them, albeit in a slightly different fashion.

Laura the Dabbler decided (with help) not to let this one go, for better or worse.

I spent the summer months preparing. I tried recipes, tasted, chucked out (a local way of saying, threw it in the trash), and developed the pies I wanted to sell. At one point I nearly cost my mother-in-law her teeth with my attempt at Lemon Shaker Pie. I ended up with three – Dark Chocolate & Pecan, Key Lime Pie and Mississippi Mud. I figured these choices were distinct when alongside each other and especially recognizable as American.

As the day approached, I became organized and increasingly nervous. Despite the fact that this was not one of the bigger country shows, poor weather was posing a threat and turnout was questionable – I had stage fright! This was my pie debut! What the heck did I know? No formal culinary training. Had I missed something? Would I poison someone? My stall would look amateur and uninviting. What if I don’t sell one slice? Laura with Sense kept saying, however, it doesn’t matter if you succeed or fail. The important thing is that you are putting yourself out there.

So I did. And it went pretty well.

I sold most of my pies. I had around 120 slices to sell and had less than 15 left at the end of the day. Only one person walked away tutting at my prices. I did have samples to charm people and I suppose charm is what they did! (Thanks David for prodding). I even had a few enquiries about selling them in stores and an invitation to be interviewed for a local newspaper.

When I got home that evening I was wearing a smile, I had a profit and by George did it feel wonderful to sit down.

My next gig is in November, and this time, we’ll see how the Brits respond to pumpkin.

Fancy a slice?

xx Laura